“Pitch by Pitch: My View of One Unforgettable Game” by Bob Gibson and Lonnie Wheeler
Baseball, history, World Series, Cardinals
October 5, 2015
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Game one of the 1968 World Series was considered to be one of the most dominating pitching performances ever seen in the Fall Classic. Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 17 Detroit Tigers in a winning performance that is chronicled in this book by the pitcher with author Lonnie Wheeler, who has assisted with several baseball books.
The title is a literal description of the book as Gibson relieves the game pitch by pitch after viewing and breaking down video of the historic game. He lets the reader get inside his mind as to what his thought process was before and during the pitch and what his reactions were for the results – mostly positive of course.
However, there is more to the book than just a recap of the game as stories about teammates, opponents faced on the Tigers and other tidbits of information that make for good reading. These stories are mostly Gibson’s fond memories of teammates such as Tim McCarver and Curt Flood, or showing respect for players on that Tigers team such as Al Kaline and Norm Cash. For the most part, these stories are inserted into the game summary when the subject played a key part of that moment of the game. The one exception to this is in the chapter on the eighth inning. There, a story about Gibson’s brother Josh is inserted where Bob gives credit to his brother in giving him the competitive fire he was famous for. It broke up the flow of the book, but not for long as afterward the ninth inning is recalled when Gibson set the strikeout record.
Gibson is not only renowned for his talent, he was also renowned for his meanness and inside pitching. On the latter, he gave one of my favorite passages from the book when he explains the difference between pitching inside, which “implies placing the ball in the strike zone”, and coming inside, whose purpose “is to bring the ball inside often enough and aggressively enough to keep the batter from striding confidently across the plate to the side that you positively have to command; to keep him honest in other words.” So it is more appropriate to say that Gibson was famous for “coming inside” instead of “pitching inside.”
A very fun and entertaining read, this book is recommended for any baseball fan who wants to learn more about this pitcher and what was going through his mind as he was completing one of the best pitched games in World Series history.
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